Higher Education Quick Takes
Online teacher education is growing rapidly, according to an analysis published by USA Today. The newspaper found that four large universities (three of them for-profit) have become the largest teacher education institutions in the country, measured by degrees awarded. In the top spot is the University of Phoenix Online, which awarded 5,976 education degrees in 2011, up from 72 a decade before. The top four institutions awarded 1 in 16 bachelor's degree and post-graduate certificates in education in 2011, and 1 in 11 master's and doctoral degrees.
The University of Virginia announced Tuesday that the institution's chief operating officer, Michael Strine, has resigned after just over a year in the position. "Michael recently determined that it would be in the best interest of the University that he step down and allow me to do some necessary internal restructuring," said President Teresa Sullivan in a statement.
Strine, who came to U.Va. from Johns Hopkins University in July 2011, was a central figure in the drama surrounding Sullivan's resignation and reappointment in June, with sources close to the president saying that Strine met frequently with board members without informing Sullivan of the discussion and was highly critical of Sullivan's leadership. "Though it is hard to step aside, I am confident that this step helps the University and those it serves by allowing this Board and President the opportunity to pursue changes aimed at ensuring communication, accountability and shared governance," Strine said in a statement.
A federal judge was correct in a 2010 ruling that Quinnipiac University violated Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 when it attempted to replace volleyball with competitive cheerleading, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit said Tuesday -- reaffirming that the latter cannot be counted as a varsity sport under Title IX, and that its athletes may not count toward gender equity requirements. Experts called the 2010 decision a “cautionary tale” for other colleges.
Competitive cheerleading doesn’t qualify under Title IX because it is run differently from other varsity sports; there was no off-campus recruiting, for instance, and no uniform rules for competition throughout the season. The court also noted that it is not yet recognized as a sport -- “or even an ‘emerging sport’ “ -- by the National Collegiate Athletic Association.
The proportion of all higher education employees whose work focuses on instruction or research rather than administration edged up slightly in 2011, but the proportion of instructors at four-year public universities who worked part time continued to rise, according to data released Tuesday by the Education Department's National Center for Education Statistics. The statistics, included in an annual publication that examines data on colleges' employment patterns and student financial aid, show the number of workers rising to 3.92 million at postsecondary institutions that award federal financial aid, with about 1.9 million involved in instruction or research (including graduate assistants) and the rest in administration or staff jobs. Of the instructional/research staff at public four-year institutions, 36.2 percent worked part time, up from 35.5 percent in 2010. The proportion of instructors who were part time actually fell, though, at community colleges and at private nonprofit four-year institutions.
The report also provides data on the price (before and after financial aid is awarded) at different types of institutions.
Higher One, a student payment processing service, on Tuesday announced its purchase of Campus Labs, a software company focused on student affairs. Higher One is a publicly traded company that currently dominates the market for debit cards colleges use to disburse financial aid to students, a business that has at times been controversial. The purchase of Campus Labs marks an expansion by the company into a new area.
A Pennsylvania State University trustee plans to appeal the severe punishment the National Collegiate Athletic Association imposed on the institution in the wake of its child sex abuse scandal, questioning whether the NCAA provided the university with due process and even whether Penn State's president had the authority to sign off on the penalties without getting approval from the university's full board, the Associated Press reported. The NCAA has asserted that it had clearance to impose the penalties on Penn State outside its normal enforcement and infractions process because of the outside investigation Penn State ordered and because Penn State consented to the penalties. But recent news reports have indicated that the board never formally approved Louis Freeh's external report and that many trustees were kept in the dark about the negotiations with the NCAA.
Fund raisers for schools, colleges and universities project that final numbers from the 2011-12 year will show a 4.9 percent gain in contributions, while 2012-13 will show a 5.9 percent gain, according to a survey by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education. In terms of projections for next year, public four-year institutions are projecting gains of 6.5 percent, while private four-year institutions and community colleges are both projecting gains of 6.1 percent. Private schools are projecting an increase of only 5.1 percent.
A former law student at the University of Virginia has pleaded guilty to breaking into the registrar's office in December to steal a request for his transcript, The Daily Progress reported. The man (at the time a student) had a summer internship offer, but had been told that the law firm would confirm what he had said about his grades with a transcript request. The student had reported a false grade-point average. The break-in, according to court documents, was not spur of the moment, but followed a period in which the student watched the registrar's office in person and with a camera to try to determine when the transcript request would arrive and how he would obtain it.
Four years after investors stepped in to stave off the death of Myers University, which has educated adults in Cleveland since the 1850s, the institution -- now called Chancellor University -- once again faces an existential threat, this time at the hands of its regional accreditor. The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools voted in late June to put Chancellor on "show cause" status, meaning that the institution will be shut down if its officials cannot persuade the accreditor within a year that it has ameliorated the agency's concerns, which relate to weak finances, conflicts of interest and poor student retention.
It has been a bumpy few years for the institution since 2008, when the Higher Learning Commission granted permission for Myers' buyers (led by the high-profile investor Michael Clifford) to transform it into Chancellor. Clifford had grand plans, including the naming of the institution's management school for Jack Welch, the former head of General Electric. (The management school has since been sold to another for-profit institution, Strayer University.) But it wasn't long before the institution was back in turmoil; in February 2010, the Higher Learning Commission gave it a show cause order, but the commission concluded by February 2011 that the institution had addressed its concerns. But quarterly reports filed by the institution triggered new concerns last February, leading to the new show cause order.
Chancellor University officials told Crain's Cleveland Business that the institution would get through the current crisis as it did two years ago. “Every member of the leadership team and the board of trustees would swear in a court of law, on the Bible and the U.S. Constitution that this institution is significantly better than it was when it got off show-cause” last time, President Robert Daugherty told the newspaper.